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# CE 537, Spring 2011 Retaining Wall Design Example 1 / 8

## Design a reinforced concrete retaining wall for the

following conditions.

f'c = 3000 psi
fy = 60 ksi

Development of Structural Design Equations. In this example, the structural design of the
three retaining wall components is performed by hand. Two equations are developed in this
section for determining the thickness & reinforcement required to resist the bending moment
in the retaining wall components (stem, toe and heel).

Equation to calculate effective depth, d: Three basic equations will be used to develop an
equation for d.
1
1
'
'
003 . 0
003 . 0
,
003 . 0
/
003 . 0
:
] 2 [ 85 . 0
85 . 0 ,
] 1 [
2
2
|
c
c
|
|
|
+
=
+
=
=
= =
|
.
|

\
|
=
|
.
|

\
|
=
=
s
s
y
c
s
y s c
y s u
y s n
n u
d
a
d a
ity compatibil strain
Eqn ab
f
f
A
f A b a f T C
Eqn
a
d f A M
a
d f A M
M M

Assuming |
1
= 0.85,
c
s
a/d
0.005 0.319
0.00785 0.235
0.010 0.196
and choosing a value for c
s
in about the middle of the practical design range,
] 3 [ 235 . 0 , 235 . 0 Eqn d a
d
a
= =
Fill: | =32
o

Unit wt =100 pcf
Natural Soil: | =32
o
allowable bearing pressure =5000psf
w
toe
t
stem
w
heel
H
T
=18 ft
t
f
surcharge =q
s
=400
psf
CE 537, Spring 2011 Retaining Wall Design Example 2 / 8

Substituting Eqn. 2 into Eqn. 1:
|
.
|

\
|

|
|
.
|

\
|
=
2
85 . 0
'
a
d f ab
f
f
M
y
y
c
u
|

And substituting Eqn. 3 into the above:
d
d
d f b d
f
f
M
y
y
c
u
883 . 0
2
235 . 0
235 . 0 85 . 0
'
|
.
|

\
|
= |

Inserting the material properties: f'c = 3 ksi and fy = 60 ksi, and b = 12
in
(1-foot-wide
strip of wall, in the direction out of the paper).
2 2
71 . 5 ) 883 . 0 )( 235 . 0 )( 12 ( 3 ) 85 . 0 ( 90 . 0 d M d M
in
k
u
in ksi
u
= =

Equation for area of reinforcement, A
s
. The area of reinforcement required is calculated
from Eqn. 1:

d A M d A d f A M
s
ksi
u
ksi
s y s u
7 . 47 883 . 0 60 90 . 0 883 . 0 = = = |

Design Procedure (after Phil Ferguson, Univ. Texas)

1. Determine H
T
. Usually, the top-of-wall elevation is determined by the client. The
bottom-of-wall elevation is determined by foundation conditions. H
T
= 18 feet.

2. Estimate thickness of base. t
f
7% to 10% H
T
(12" minimum)
T
f
= 0.07 (18' x 12"/') = 15.1" use t
f
= 16"
CE 537, Spring 2011 Retaining Wall Design Example 3 / 8

3. Design stem (t
stem
, As
stem
). The stem is a vertical cantilever beam, acted on by the
horizontal earth pressure.

calc. d:
lb ft ft ft
sur a sur
lb ft ft
fill
o
o
a
ft
a fill
psf h q k P
pcf P
k
page of out h h k P
2070 ) 1 )( 67 . 16 )( 400 ( 31 . 0 ) 1 (
4310 ) 1 ( ) 67 . 16 )( 100 )( 31 . 0 (
2
1
31 . 0
) 32 sin( 1
) 32 sin( 1
sin 1
sin 1
) 1 ( ) (
2
1
2
= = =
= =
=
+

=
+

=
=
|
|

in in in in
in
stem
in in in in
stem
in
in
k
ft k
in
k
u
ft k
ft
lb
ft
lb
u
fill u
d
t use bars assume t
d d
ft
in
d M
M
h h
P M
5 . 12 5 . 0 2 15
15 ) 8 # ( , 3 . 14 ) 0 . 1 (
2
1
cover 2 8 . 11
8 . 11 , 71 . 5 ) 12 ( 9 . 65
71 . 5
9 . 65 )
2
67 . 16
)( 2070 )( 6 . 1 ( )
3
67 . 16
)( 4310 )( 6 . 1 (
)
2
)( )(P LoadFactor Live ( )
3
)( )( LoadFactor Pressure Earth (
2
2
sur
= =
= = + + =
= =
=
= + =
+ =

w
toe
t
stem
w
heel
h =8
ft
16
in
/12
in/ft
h =16.67
ft
t
f
= 16
in
k
a
h
k
a
q
s
h

CE 537, Spring 2011 Retaining Wall Design Example 4 / 8

calc. A
s
:
in use
bar
in
ft
in
wall of ft
in
bar
in
in bar one of A
in A A
ft
in
d A M
s
s
in
s
ksi ft k
s
ksi
u
6 @ 8 # , 13 . 7 12
33 . 1
79 . 0
79 . 0 8 #
33 . 1 ), 5 . 12 ( 7 . 47 ) 12 ( 9 . 65
7 . 47
2
2
2
2
=
=
= =
=

4. Choose Heel Width, w
heel
Select w
heel
to prevent sliding. Use a key to force sliding
failure to occur in the soil (soil-to-soil has higher friction angle than soil-to-concrete).

Neglect soil resistance in front of the
wall.

found stem fill T
o
soil natural
soil natural T
sliding
resist
W W W W
W
F
FS
F
set
+ + =
= =
=
=
= =
=
62 . 0 ) 32 tan( tan
) (tan F
friction) of fficient Force)(coe (Vertical F
sliding for 1.5 Safety of Factor FS
resist
resist
|
|

850 200 ) 1 )( 3
12
15
)(
12
16
)( 150 (
2810 ) 1 (
) 12
1
2
15 12
)( 67 . 16 )( 150 (
1670 ) 1 )( )( 67 . 16 )( 100 (
+ = + + =
=
+
=
= =
heel
ft ft
heel found
lb ft
in
ft in in
ft
stem
heel
ft
heel
ft
fill
w plf ft w ft pcf W
pcf W
w
ft
lb
w pcf W

lb lb lb
sliding
lb ft ft
sur
lb ft ft
fill
sur fill sliding
F
psf P
pcf P
P P F
7250 2230 5020
2230 ) 1 )( 18 )( 400 31 . 0 (
5020 ) 1 ( ) 18 )( 100 31 . 0 (
2
1
2
= + =
= =
= =
+ =

18
ft
t
f
= 16
in
15
in
12
in
CE 537, Spring 2011 Retaining Wall Design Example 5 / 8
ft
heel
ft
heel heel
lb lb
lb
heel
lb
heel
lb
w use w w
ft
lb
w
ft
lb
w
ft
lb
5 . 7 , 42 . 7 , 1870 3660
62 . 0
5 . 1
7250
5 . 1
) 62 . 0 ( 850 200 2810 1670
7250
= = + =
(

+ + +
=

5. Check Overturning.

)
2
75 . 11
(
)
2
25 . 1
3 (
3 ), 3
12
15
2
5 . 7
(
2 . 50 ) 9 ( 23 . 2 ) 6 ( 02 . 5
)
2
18
( )
3
18
(
ft
found
ft
ft
stem
ft
toe
ft
ft
fill resist
ft k ft k ft k
over
ft
sur
ft
fill over
W
W
w assume ft W M
M
P P M
+
+ +
= + + =
= + =
+ =

OK FS
M
M
M
M
over
ft k
ft k
over
resist
ft k
resist
ft k ft klf ft k ft ft klf
resist
, 0 . 2 47 . 2
2 . 50
2 . 124
2 . 124
) 875 . 5 )( 85 . 0 5 . 7 20 . 0 ( ) 625 . 3 )( 81 . 2 ( ) 8 )( 5 . 7 67 . 1 (
= > = =
=
+ + + =

6. Check Bearing.

ft k ft k ft k ft k
found
ft
ft
ft
stem
ft
ft
fill over
k k k k
T
found stem fill T
T
v
M
W W W M M
W
W W W W
bL
M
bL
W
toe of end at

= + =
+ + + =
= + + =
+ + =
< + =
9 . 29 ) 25 . 2 ( 81 . 2 ) 125 . 2 ( 53 . 12 2 . 50
) 0 ( ) 875 . 5
2
25 . 1
5 . 7 ( )
2
5 . 7
875 . 5 (
69 . 17 35 . 2 81 . 2 45 . 12
6
L
e if only valid is equation ,
6
2
o

Check that e < L/6:
OK
L
e
L
W
m
e
ft
ft
ft
k
ft k
T
,
6
, 96 . 1
6
75 . 11
6
, 68 . 1
69 . 17
9 . 29
< = = = = =

12.53
k
2.35
k
18
ft
t
f
= 16
in
12
in
3'

15" 7.5'

CE 537, Spring 2011 Retaining Wall Design Example 6 / 8
OK capacity, bearing allowable 0 . 5 80 . 2
) 75 . 11 )( 1 (
6
1
9 . 29
) 75 . 11 )( 1 (
69 . 17
2
= < = + =

ksf ksf
ft ft
ft k
ft ft
k
v
o

7. Heel Design.

Max. load on heel is due to the weight of heel + fill + surcharge as the wall tries to tip over.

Flexure:
sur fill heel
W W W W + + =
ft k
ft klf
u
u
klf
ft ft
ft
L w
M
W
plf
pcf
ft pcf W

= = =
=
+
+
=
0 . 81
2
) 5 . 7 ( 88 . 2
2
88 . 2
) 400 ( 6 . 1
) 1 )( 67 . 16 )( 100 ( 2 . 1
) 1 )(
12
16
)( 150 ( 2 . 1
2 2

flexure for d d
in
k
ft
in
d
in
k
M
in ft k
u
0 . 13 , 71 . 5 ) 12 ( 0 . 81
71 . 5
2
2
= =
=

Shear:
controls shear for d d psi V setV
d psi d b f V
w V
in in lb
c u
in
w c c
k ft klf ft
u u
, 9 . 21 , ) 12 ( 3000 2 ) 75 . 0 ( 600 , 21 ,
) 12 ( 3000 2 ) 75 . 0 ( 2 ) 75 . 0 (
6 . 21 ) 5 . 7 ( 88 . 2 ) 5 . 7 (
'
= = =
= =
= = =
|
|

Shear controls the thickness of the heel.
in
heel
24.5 t use ), 8 # ( 4 . 24
2
1
cover 2 9 . 21 = = + + = bar assume in t
in in in
heel

Reinforcement in heel:
" 8 @ 8 # , 83 . 8 ) 12 (
07 . 1
79 . 0
07 . 1 ), 9 . 21 ( 7 . 47 ) 12 ( 0 . 81
7 . 47
2
2
2
use
ft
in
ft
in
bar
in
in A A
ft
in
d A M
in
s
in
s
ksi ft k
s
ksi
u
=
= =
=

7.5
ft
16
in
M
u
w
u
V
u
CE 537, Spring 2011 Retaining Wall Design Example 7 / 8

8. Toe Design.
Earth Pressure at Tip of Toe:
change) neglible b.c. wt foundation recalc not (did , 7 . 32 ) 1 )( 18 )( 4 . 0 ( 6 . 1 ) 35 . 2 81 . 2 53 . 12 ( 2 . 1
) ( 6 . 1 ) ( 2 . 1
6
1
2
k ft ft ksf k k k
u
sur found stem fill u
u u
v
W
W W W W W
bL
M
bL
W
= + + + =
+ + + =
= o
| |
ksf ft
ft
ksf ksf
ksf
v
ksf ksf ksf
v
ksf ksf ksf
v
ft ft
ft k
ft ft
k
v
ft k ft k ft k ft k
u
ft
stem
ft
soil over u
B
C
A
M
W W M M
74 . 3 ) 75 . 8 (
75 . 11
82 . 0 74 . 4
82 . 0
82 . 0 96 . 1 78 . 2
74 . 4 96 . 1 78 . 2
) 75 . 11 )( 1 (
6
1
0 . 45
) 75 . 11 )( 1 (
7 . 32
0 . 45 ) 1 ( 81 . 2 ) 125 . 2 ( 53 . 12 2 . 1 ) 2 . 50 ( 6 . 1
) 0 . 1 125 . 2 ( 2 . 1 6 . 1
2
=

+ =
= =
= + =
+ =
= + =
+ =

o
o
o
o

d for flexure:
flexure for d d
in
k
ft
in
d
in
k
M
M
in ft k
u
ft k ft ft ft ksf
ft
ft ft ksf
u
5 . 6 , 71 . 5 ) 12 ( 8 . 19
71 . 5
8 . 19 ) 3
3
2
)( 1 )( 3 )( 00 . 1 (
2
1
)
2
3
)( 1 )( 3 )( 74 . 3 (
2
2
= =
=
= + =

d for shear:
Assume t
heel
= t
toe
= 24.5
in

Critical section for shear occurs at "d" from face of stem, d = 24.5" 3"cover-1/2"=21"

controls flexure for d OK V psi V
ft V
ft
u
lb in in
c
k ft ft ksf ksf
u
ksf ft
ft
ksf ksf
ksf
v
tion critical
, , 700 , 20 ) 21 )( 12 ( 3000 2 ) 75 (.
66 . 5 ) 1 )(
12
21
3 )( 32 . 4 74 . 4 (
2
1
32 . 4 )
12
21
75 . 8 (
75 . 11
82 . 0 74 . 4
82 . 0
sec
> = =
= + =
= +

+ =
|
o

A B C
3' 7.5'
1.25'
CE 537, Spring 2011 Retaining Wall Design Example 8 / 8
Reinforcement in toe:
" 10 @ 4 # . 10 ) 12 (
24 . 0
20 . 0
4 # , , 40 ) 12 (
24 . 0
79 . 0
24 . 0 ), 21 ( 7 . 47 ) 12 ( 8 . 19
7 . 47
2
2
2
2
2
use
ft
in
ft
in
bar
in
say bars smaller try
ft
in
ft
in
bar
in
in A A
ft
in
d A M
in
in
s
in
s
ksi ft k
s
ksi
u
=
=
= =
=